A Student Perspective: How to land a job with a non-profit.

A student perspective by: Aryton Oliver

My Name is Aryton Oliver, and I’ve always wantarytoned to find a career that focuses on trying to make people’s lives better. I’m a recent SJSU alumnus of the Political Science department, and I chose that major because it naturally fit with my interests. Before I graduated, I knew it was important for me to get internships to make me more marketable for a full-time job after college.

During my time at SJSU, I worked part-time at the Career Center as a peer advisor. From my work there, I learned about the different type of programs and employer connection events.  That’s how I obtained my first internship with Justice Corps.  The Career Center was hosting Drop-In Interviews, where I was able to meet directly with the Justice Corp’s recruiter. As my internship came to an end, I was inspired through some of my government and politics courses to pursue another internship at San Jose City Hall.

Since my political science professor had a lot of strong connections in City Hall, I reached out to him to see if he could help me out. After sending him my resume, I still did not receive any responses. It wasn’t until my professor saw that I scored a 96% on his midterm, exceeding the class average, that he saw my potential. I finally received a response from City Hall, and scheduled an interview with one of the executives for the following week.  I polished up my interviewing skills with some of the career consultants at the Career Center and eventually landed the internship with City Hall. At that internship, I assisted with policy research and I was exposed to the powerful effects that nonprofit organizations have on the communities they serve. It was very inspiring, and the internship experience also helped me develop professional skills that I can use in future careers.

In my last semester at SJSU, my job search strategy was to talk with all my connections: professors, past supervisors, and professionals at networking mixers. I made sure that I tailored my resume to specific positions and had other people review my resume for feedback (professors, career center staff and friends). I also kept my options open by applying to government, nonprofit, and even some private sector positions too. My planning paid off– I landed a job with Teen Force , a local nonprofit that helps foster youth find jobs as well as promote work-readiness training and skills development.

My current job title is Staffing Specialist, and my experience has been nothing but spectacular.  My work is very hands-on and I enjoy working with foster youth in helping them succeed in life. The work I do with the foster youth includes interviewing them for the program, reviewing their resumes, and trying to help them get a job. I also talk with business owners in the area about their hiring needs, and try to match them up with the youth in our program.

I’m really having fun with life after college, and I don’t think I could have made a better transition because my daily commute hasn’t changed that much and working 40+ hours a week feels way better than staying up late doing homework (believe me). Though in all seriousness, I’m grateful for having a job that’s aligned with my interests, and I can confidently say that the work I’m doing gives me a great sense of fulfillment.

So, that’s my story, and I hope it gave you some ideas for your own career journey. Here are my top four tips for success in the job search. Work hard and I wish you all success!

  1. Seek internships early, especially at the freshmen grade level because those experiences are priceless.
  2. Don’t just apply to positions online. Network and find ways to use the side door rather than always trying to go in through the front. Maintain strong relationships with professors, because they can offer great career advice and connections.
  3. Have an open mind. Don’t just apply to one specific type of job. Have a Plan B and C.
  4. Utilize the Career Center’s resources.

Are you also interested in pursuing a career in nonprofit or government?

If so, come to the Nonprofit and Public Service Job, Internship and Volunteer Forum on October 8 in the Student Union Ballroom from 12:30pm – 4:30pm. There will be a panel from 12:30pm – 1:30pm about finding a career in nonprofit or government. Then from 2:00pm – 4:30pm, there will be 40+ organizations you can network with for information as well as job, internship and volunteer opportunities.

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